Car Accidents in Scottsdale
Car Accident Injuries and Compensation
Car accidents occur for many reasons: driver error, negligence, manufacturing
defects and dangerous weather. No matter what the specific cause or result
of the car accident, speaking with an experienced personal injury and
wrongful death lawyer can help you sort out your rights, your options
and your future. We help drivers and passengers injured in car accidents
recover damages from the party or parties who caused the accident.
"Damages" means money, and the money is paid to the victims to
compensate them for their physical injuries, such as broken bones, spinal
cord injuries and head injuries; and also for their physical pain and
their mental and emotional suffering.
This is often referred to as "pain and suffering".
Damages may also be sought to pay for the victim's medical bills that
arose directly after and because of the car accident, in addition to reasonable
future medical bills. If the victim requires rehabilitative services or
accommodations, such as physical therapy or a ramp leading to the home,
these costs may be recovered. The car accident victim may also recover
lost wages (past and future) and property damages for personal property
damaged or destroyed in the incident.
In addition to the obvious cuts, broken bones and other physical injuries,
crash victims often suffer intangible injuries, such as emotional suffering
and what is called the "loss of enjoyment of life." Then there
are the more severe injuries, such as permanent impairment of physical
or mental functions, paralysis, and disfigurement and scarring. If the
injured person was already suffering from a previous injury, the question
becomes whether, and to what extent, the car accident may have aggravated
or worsened the victim's existing injury, and the new injury can be
treated as a separate matter from the underlying injury. When the victim
is married, his or her spouse can sometimes bring a claim for damages
for their "loss of consortium," which is the negative effect
the accident has had on the marital relationship, including such things
as the loss of the injured spouse's companionship, comfort, assistance,
sexual relations and love and affection.
The monetary "value" of any of the above damages will depend
on many factors, including whether the condition(s) suffered are temporary
At-Fault, Negligent and Aggressive Drivers
Driver negligence is much more common than you may realize. All it takes
is a split-second lack of attention. That distraction might be as innocent
as talking to a passenger, attending to an infant or child passenger,
changing a CD or radio station, eating or
texting on a cell phone; or it may be as obviously negligent as applying make-up in the rearview
mirror. Any one of these is enough to prevent a driver from being able
to react in a normally-quick manner to changing traffic conditions such
as sudden braking in stop-and-go traffic, objects, people or animals in
the road, and so on. More serious and obvious negligence occurs when traffic
or criminal laws are actually violated: disobeying traffic signs and signals,
failing to signal while turning or changing lanes, driving above or even
well below the posted speed limit, disregarding the weather or traffic
conditions, and driving under the influence of drugs, alcohol or a combination
of the two.
You may have a sense of who
caused a car accident; but a determination of "legal fault" can be surprisingly complicated
and involve questions about who acted when, which laws governed the situation,
witness recollections and the like. Even if the driver of the other car
was clearly negligent, you must still prove that his negligence caused
your damages. Police and car accident reports, including witness statements
and photos can help; but even then, many car and auto insurance companies
will contest what appears to be clear liability and force you to "prove
Actions, on the part of either driver, that may have contributed to the
car accident include:
- Driving through a stop sign or red light
- Driving while intoxicated by drugs or alcohol
- Failing to drive in a manner that is safe for current conditions
- Driving faster or slower than speed limit
- Driver using a cell phone, toying with the radio, or otherwise distracted
- Disobeying traffic laws
In some cases, a driver may not simply be negligent; some drivers can be
reckless and even intentionally dangerous, consciously disregarding the
potential consequences of their actions. A common example of this kind
of behavior is road rage, which can potentially escalate to intentionally
dangerous activity. Road rage in particular can be extremely dangerous,
leading to injuries and criminal charges.
Clearly, aggressive drivers are a serious threat to the safety of all the
other drivers around them; and if they cause a wreck, their liability
is usually apparent. The difficulty lies in identifying them, then hoping
they have insurance coverage!
"How Much Is My Car Accident Claim Worth?"
The value of your claim depends on factors too numerous to list here, but
here are a few of the most obvious factors: Arizona traffic laws; the
nature, extent and permanency of the victim's physical injuries, scarring,
burns and disfigurement; the duration of hospitalization; the extent of
his lost wages and earnings; the victim's mental and emotional injuries;
the total medical expenses including ambulance, hospital, doctor and physical
therapy bills; and the victim's own negligence, if any.
This last factor is referred to in Arizona as "comparative fault." It is
similar to "contributory negligence." As you can see, the process involved
in calculating personal injury damages can be very complex, which is why
in any auto accident claim involving serious injuries, victims should
always consult with an experienced personal injury and wrongful death
attorney who can be a strong ally in planning their case, assessing damages,
and bringing a claim or lawsuit against the party responsible.
Car Insurance -- Uninsured and Underinsured Motorists Coverage
In most cases, car accident victims are paid by the other driver's
auto liability insurance company. This is true whether they settle their
claim out of court or go through a jury trial in court. But what happens
if the other driver has no auto liability insurance (uninsured motorist
coverage) or has an auto liability policy that is simply not enough to
cover the total damages suffered by the victim (underinsured motorist
In either situation, the car accident victim must pursue other means of
recovery, usually through his or her own auto insurance company. If the
accident victim's auto insurance policy includes uninsured motorist/underinsured
motorist (UM/UIM) coverage, then he is very fortunate and may bring a
claim "against" his own insurance company to pay the amount
of our claim that was not covered by the adverse driver's insurance.
After all, this is one of the major reasons we purchase car insurance
– to protect ourselves and our families if we are injured by a driver
who has little or no auto liability insurance. To recover benefits under
an uninsured or underinsured motorist policy, the victim typically will
need to show that the other motorist was at fault. The victim will also
need to prove that his or her bodily injuries were significant. To collect
benefits under an underinsured motorist policy, the victim will need to
collect as much as possible from the at-fault driver's insurance company first.
(NOTE: Cases involving UM/UIM claims can get very complicated very quickly
and should only be handled by an experienced personal injury attorney.)
Similarly, there might be insurance coverage available through policies
owned by the victim's employer, spouse or other family member. Obviously,
the extent of any of these "other sources" of insurance will
depend on the specific limits of coverage, the language of the policies
themselves, and how much insurance, if any, has already been recovered
from the adverse insurance company.
It is most often the case that car accident victims who recover in court
or via a settlement are paid by the other driver’s insurance company.
If the other driver is uninsured or underinsured, however, the car accident
victim must pursue other means of recovery.
The car insurance policy of the victim may have an
uninsured-motorist or underinsured-motorist provision that will compensate the victim. Other
types of car insurance policies, available through the victim’s
spouse or employer, may also provide benefits. How significant a benefit
and whether it is available depends, of course, on the specifics of the
Qualified Car Accident Lawyer in Scottsdale
The Watkin Law Office, PC has successfully handled numerous
auto accident injury and
wrongful death cases for our clients. If you or a loved one has suffered serious personal
injuries in a motor vehicle accident caused by the other driver's
negligence, whether in the greater Scottsdale, Arizona area or anywhere
else in Arizona, we would like to hear from you.
Contact us online or call 480-347-9804 to arrange a free, confidential consultation.
When results matter, choose The Watkin Law Office, PC.
Clark Watkin of The Watkin Law Office, PC is a Scottsdale personal injury
and wrongful death attorney who represents serious personal injury and
wrongful death clients throughout Arizona, including Phoenix, Tempe, Mesa,
Chandler, Gilbert, Glendale, Peoria, Cave Creek, Carefree, Fountain Hills
and Paradise Valley.
IMPORTANT: If an insurance claims agent for the person at fault calls to
"interview" you, decline -- at least until you have spoken with
an attorney. Despite what the insurance agent might tell you, he is NOT
"just trying to help."
Car Accident Resources: